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'I lost all my friends': Saskatoon couple coping with loss of family and friends in Turkiye

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A Saskatoon couple is left feeling powerless to help their family and friends dig out of the rubble following the two major earthquakes in Turkiye on Monday.

Mehmet Dökmeci and his wife Meltem desperately tried to reach anyone they could in the day after the quake, but phone service and power were scarce.

“Everybody left their phones or car keys and everything, and they got stuck outside with nothing,” said Dökmeci.

Dökmeci worried for his 83-year-old father in Antakya.

“At that moment, we thought the whole building collapsed. We couldn’t get a hold of anyone.”

Over a day later, they got a hold of the caretaker of the building.

“We found out my father was OK, and he was in a park right beside the building that he came out. They were hanging out there with the neighbours trying to get warm.”

With no power, they relied on fire for light and warmth. It was a moment of relief, but it was tinged with pain, says Dökmeci.

“I know that he’s probably not happy that he’s alive. All his brothers, all his nieces and nephews are in the rubble; it’s not a good feeling,” he said. “I can’t recognize my hometown.”

Meltem says she’s lost both family and friends -- uncles, aunts and cousins

“I lost all my friends,” said Meltem. “There is just a little, little friends alive. All my relatives, everybody, almost 80 per cent gone.”

Meltem says she has daily prayers for her lost relatives.

“I am praying to my sister. Thank you, my sister. You are my angel. You are the angel.”

The amount of territory search and rescue teams have to cover has created an impossible task, says Dökmeci.

“This is about 66,000 square kilometres of a place, we’re talking about 10 cities, and about 13 to 15 million people.”

They feel so small trying to cope with the disaster from afar, says Dökmeci.

Melmet is calling on Saskatoon residents to contribute what they can to the relief effort.

“Turkiye definitely needs help. Please help Turkiye. There’s no houses … they need food, they need rescue now, please, please, Canada, help.”

The couple has started a GoFundMe page to raise funds for relief organizations, including the Red Crescent.

-With files from Tyler Barrow

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